Editor's Note: The Basking Ridge Patch has been receiving reaction statements since Thursday morning's Supreme Court ruling upholding much of the health care program advanced by President Obama's administration. Below are a number of those comments.
This column will be updated as additional statements are received. Please add your own opinion in the comments section at the bottom of the article.
By a 5-4 vote on Thursday morning, the justices upheld most of the act, although the opinion was not a simple and straightforward endorsement. The court upheld the requirement that every American purchase health insurance or else pay a penalty, as a tax decision and upheld it on those grounds, in an opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts.
If you'd prefer, please vote or see results from the poll posted on North Jersey Patches from Somerset County, up to Bergen County,
The following comment arrived on Friday from John Carroll, Md., Vice President of Medical Affairs at Somerset Medical Center in Somerville.
"The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a great benefit to the residents in our community. It will dramatically increase access to the type of quality care that Somerset Medical Center remains committed to providing. If this law works as intended, it will help control costs and promote greater efficiencies throughout the health care system."
The following comments were taken from a Thursday afternoon interveiw with Bernards Township Committeeman John Carpenter, a Republican:
"There's so much wrong with it — I don't really understand the court's decision," Carpenter said. He said he "finds it odd" that the plan approved was characterized as a tax in Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts Jr.'s written opinion, while he said that President Obama previously had stressed that the program was not a tax.
"I don't think they have any idea how it's going to play out because they have no idea how to pay for it," Carpenter said. "They [the federal government] just give the money away without regard for where the money is going to come from."
"I think liberty took a bullet today," Carpenter said. "The Supreme Court has said to Congress, 'Do whatever you want.'"
He said he found it disappointing that the court didn't apply the commerce clause test to the reasoning in the decision. "It seems we are no longer a country of laws."
On a local level, in Bernards Township, Carpenter said the Township Committee is required to introduce, advertise, and then publicly discuss any spending of public monies in an ordinance before "we can pave a sidewalk."
"A hockey rink paving job in Bernards Township received more scrutiny than Obamacare," Carpenter said, referring to yet another discussion at Tuesday's Township Committee about whether the township
The township decided that night not to hire a contractor to do the installation since the lowest bid was higher than the amount in the township's budget.
Yet, with the federal healthcare program, Carpenter said, "Who knows what the costs are going to be? Nobody knows."
Carpenter, a longtime Bernards Township resident, said, "The president is leading us to a place where France, Spain, Italy and Greece are today."
The following is a statement submitted to Patch late Thursday morning by Jim Lefkowitz, President of the Somerset County Tea Party:
“I would like to personally thank Chief Justice John Roberts for handing Mitt Romney the Presidency, possibly the Senate majority to the Republicans and helping every Tea Party across America as they ignite their membership for the election this November.
The Supreme Court today gave America the single finger salute today, but I can’t help feeling like Justice Roberts is chuckling just a little bit behind his robe.
There is certainly nothing humorous about this court approved expansion and intrusion of government into our lives (and an enormous tax increase) on a bill unprecedented in American history.
I expect, from the president’s past performance, for him to rub this in the noses of the 60% that oppose this new “tax”. The galvanizing effect on voters is yet to be seen, but the immediate feedback I have received from Tea Party voters is that this is a tipping point to get citizens involved in ways never seen before.”
The following statement was issued shortly before noon on Thursday by U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, a Democrat representing New Jersey in the U.S. Senate:
“On this day, history was made in America. This is a victory for the people, and makes clear that help is on the way for 30 million Americans who need access to affordable health insurance,” Lautenberg said. “Middle class families are struggling to afford health insurance and Obamacare will throw them a lifeline. It is time for the Republicans to stop the politically inspired attacks and work with us to extend this law’s help to as many people as possible. With this ruling, Americans finally will have the peace of mind to know that their families will be taken care of when they get sick. President Obama has courageously stood up to false, political attacks, and his hard work was vindicated today.”
Lautenberg's statement added that the passage of much of the law benefits New Jerseyans in such areas as Free Preventive Health Services, Elimination of Lifetime Limits, Extended Coverage for Young Adults, Lower Prescription Drug Costs for Seniors, Establishment of Affordable Insurance Exchanges, and Increased Support for Community Health Centers.
The following is a statement issued shortly after noon on Thursday by U.S. Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen, a Republican representing U.S. Congressional District 11 through 2012, including Bernards Township, Long Hill Township and part of Bridgewater Township:
“I am deeply disappointed in the Court’s decision. Our primary focus should be on jobs and the economy and this decision appears to affirm a whole host of new taxes, mandates and regulations on small business owners, raising health care costs and continuing uncertainty for employers.
“As a result of this ruling, millions of Americans may now have an IRS problem, since the Internal Revenue Service is the enforcer of the individual mandate and the dozens of other taxes imposed by new health care law.
“Congress should take this opportunity to re-engage the American people and enact patient-centered reforms that allow families to make their own choices about their own health care, visit the doctor of their choosing, and receive the care they and their doctor feel is best.”
The following statement is from U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat representing New Jersey in the U.S. Senate, issued on Thursday afternoon:
“Today a tremendous victory was won by the American people who have lived far too long with a broken health care system,” said Menendez. “It is a victory for the 73,000 New Jersey residents under 26 who will remain covered through their parents’ policies. It is a victory for families who have been subjected to a health care system in which the size of a person’s wallet determined the level of care they received. The health care law is not perfect, and I intend to help fix what needs work, but this is good news for families and seniors all across New Jersey."
Menendez will on to criticize the reaction of his Republican opponent in this November's race for U.S. Senate — state Sen. Joe Kyrillos of Middlesex. “Whenever the question of health care reform has come up, Joe Kyrillos has been on the wrong side of the issue. He called for the Affordable Care Act’s repeal even though he understands very little about the Affordable Care Act. By calling for the law’s repeal, he stood alongside insurance companies that would see fit to deny a person coverage due to a pre-existing condition," Menendez said.
Time after time, he voted against funding for women’s health and family planning services and to limit health care coverage for public employees. Joe Kyrillos and the Tea Party Republicans have been consistent and reliable opponents of access to health care for middle class New Jersey families. I am proud to have been part of the fight to provide quality, affordable health care to thousands of New Jersey families who desperately needed it and could not afford it. New Jersey residents will always be able to count on me to fight back against the special interests that would deny what they need."
Kyrillos, who is opposing U.S. Senator Menendez in the November election, also on Thursday issued a statement regarding the health care ruling. Earlier this year, a fundraiser for Kyrillos, at which Republican U.S. Presidential hopeful of a Bernardsville attorney.
Kyrillos said on Thursday: "Today’s Supreme Court decision may have confirmed the constitutionality of the legislation, but one fact remains: the massive, expensive health care overhaul voted for by Senator Menendez is bad policy.
Government run healthcare spends money we don't have, loots Medicare, limits patient choice, and continues to place a cloud of uncertainty over our economy. Congress can and must repeal and replace it with more sensible reforms like providing coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.
Here in New Jersey, we've seen how the Corzine-Menendez pattern of raising taxes, spending more and leaving the bills to future generations does not work- it left us nearly bankrupt.
We need change in Washington. Real, meaningful change. The same kind of change Governor Christie is bringing to New Jersey. And I intend to deliver that kind of change as your Senator."
The Basking Ridge Patch will continue to add reaction statements to this piece. Please add your own.